10-01-10 - Some Car News

Lots of Cool news from Paris :

Paris 2010 2012 Ford Focus ST hatches early � Autoblog - finally euro "hot hatches" are coming to America. (obviously we have things like the Mini, GTI, Mazdaspeed3, but none of them really quite qualify). Unfortunately still no signs of the high end hot hatches. And WTF ever happened to the Fiat 500 that was supposed to take us by storm? By the time it comes out here we'll all be in hovercars. I'd love to see the Fiesta rally car made into a production model, but it looks like that won't happen, and even if it did it won't come to the US (FYI the Fiesta is a smaller Focus).

(BTW the right rules for WRC Rally cars : build whatever you want, but there must be a homologation version available in large quantities that must be sold for $40k or less; apparently they no longer require homologation)

Hyundai pledges to hit 40 mpg with 2012 Veloster, beat out Honda CR-Z � Autoblog - I'm glad to see some car manufacturers are pursuing the correct way to make green vehicles. Light weight, small, efficient engines. Hybrids are such a fucking scam, it makes me sick that they are underwritten by my tax dollars so that people can drive cars that are too big and too heavy while pretending to be green. The Mazda2 is also a cool car, only 2000 pounds which is absolutely shocking my modern standards. I'd love to see a Mazda2 with a high-reving 2 liter. The Fiesta ECOnetic for example is a great green car (of course not coming to America because we suck).

(Americans are basically completely retarded; we claim to want "green" and "sustainable" but have to buy the latest disposable thing all the time, we don't buy hatchbacks even though they are absolutely the most practical car design (station wagons either); we don't like deisel; we like giant trucks for no reason; we believe in angels and actually think Obama is a muslim , seriously WTF you are all fired, get out of my country).

2014 Lotus Elan First Look - 2010 Paris Auto Show - Automobile Magazine , all the new Lotuses look identical so I'll pick the one that is in the sweet spot I want - the Elan is 2+2 mediumweight (2900 pounds or so) coupe that should absolutely kick the ass of the venerable Porsche 911. It's got more power, less weight, a better mid-engine layout. I'm sure it will have shitty electrics and reliability problems, but hey so do Porsches. It's basically the best of the Cayman (the weight and geometry) with the practicality (2+2) of the 911. It does cost more like a GT3 than a base 911. It replaces the Evora which is a piece of shit worst of all worlds monster; it's too small, too weak in the engine, and yet somehow also too heavy. Somehow the Elan massively fixes all of those issues.

We should also note that all the new Lotuses are disappointingly heavy, and most lack manual transmission options, and they have joined that unfortunate design trend of not giving you any windows. It's a shame that Lotus insists on building their own cars. It would be much better if they were just a division of Toyota, so they could focus just on design and let Toyota do the building (since they're made of Toyota bits anyway, and Toyota is much better at putting them together well).

In other news, It looks like there are some problems with the new Subaru WRX's blowing engines; something about stripped bearings and rods knocking. So far it seems that Subaru is being decent about replacing them under warranty, but NOT if you chipped your car and did larger turbos and all that. I keep thinking about buying one of these because they are epically practical around here, and N and the Porsche have taught me the joy of ripping up country dirt/gravel roads, which a WRX with rally mods would be awesome for. This is a warning to myself :

2009 WRX Engine Failure Poll - Page 2 - NASIOC
2009 Impreza WRX motor issues - Page 7 - NASIOC
09 WRX Engine Failures - ClubWRX Forum - Subaru Impreza WRX and STi Community and Forums

Also apparently the 2008's were just terrible in various ways; if you like the new WRX hatch (like I do), it looks like you have to go to 2010.

The more I read about Porsches the more it seems the M96 (996, Boxster 986) engines were just complete shit. Everyone knows about the common and disastrous IMS failures ( YouTube - Porsche IMS Bearing Failure Explained ), but there were also RMS failures, cylinder sleeve failures, timing chain failures, etc. etc. basically every part of the engine was made too cheaply and can blow to bits, and worst of all Porsche never owned up to it and consistently screws over their customers. It's absolutely shameful and yet the brand seems to have taken almost no hit from it. A few of the 996 owners who blew engines left the brand, but lots didn't, for example :

    "I'm following the same route as the original poster. Sold my 996 at 80k miles after reading too many posts about IMS failures and plan to purchase a 997. From above, it appears that the '05 997 may have the same IMS configuration as the 996. Is this correct?"

    "Get an 06 997 S with the sports chrono package and PSE. Lots of them out there. Oh yeah......And get an extended warranty.(I had a 996 blow up as well.) You will freakin love it... "

WTF, you're like an abused wife. Your engine just blew up and Porsche took a shit in your mouth, and now you want to buy almost the same car again?

In theory the 997 has upgraded bits that address the failures, but we'll see. Of course I think it's shitty that Porsche has done this, but it's really not that unusual for any manufacturer. BMW knows the HPFP's in most of the new 135/335/etc line are prone to failure, and they improved them over the years. Of course they don't just give you the improved version if you have an older car, and they will even deny the fact that it was a design flaw that was fixed. They'll claim the old one is just fine, but the new one is "even better". This is just standard practice. The thing that makes it really especially egregious with Porsche is that they make so much profit ($28k per car) that they could have easily covered the cost of an engine per car ($15k) and still made plenty. When you buy a $12k Hyundai you shouldn't really expect too much in dealer freebies (but you actually do get a lot!), while a $90k Porsche buyer might reasonably expect some love. No. Shame on you, I hope the Elan is great.

One last thing on the whole Porsche 996 debacle : LN Engineering and Flat 6 Innovations are the top resources for info on this. The thing is, the 986 Boxsters and 996 Carreras have taken such a huge hit from this in resale value, that they are actually a good deal again. You can get a 986 Boxster with a blown engine for $5k , and then send the engine up to Flat6 and have them rebuild it for you with all the new LNE replacement bits, maybe $10k for the rebuild, and you wind up spending $15k for a really great car, which actually has a strong reliable engine after those guys are done with it (or you can buy one that's not blown for $12k and spend $3k getting the upgraded bits put on and be in the same spot).

Just as another random example Cadillac NorthStar engines were similar disposable shit. Lots of car makers have these complete shit products, and various years of production that you absolutely should never buy. It's not surprising that the car makers try to hush it up, but where the fuck are our consumer advocates? Maybe if they got called on it more they would actually do something about it. Why doesn't Consumer Reports track this stuff better and say "x year of this model is a lemon, do not buy". There are hundreds of car review web sites, and you could go read them for days and not see mention of any of this kind of stuff.

Oh, and finally, here's a good tip : if you're buying a used car, get yourself an OBD2 reader. Every car now has a generic serial port called OBD2 you can plug into and pull history off the ECU. It will tell you if any faults have ever triggered in the history of the car. It should also tell the date that the ECU started recording, so you can tell if it's been wiped or replaced. An OBD2 reader only costs like $50 and you can get them at any auto parts shop.

If the car looks good, you might want to get a compression or leakdown test. You can do this pretty easily yourself (depending on how hard it is to get to the spark plugs on that car, some cars make it a fucking PITA), or it should cost about $100 to have a shop do it for you. In my experience, having a mechanic do an "inspection" of a used car is pretty useless. All they do is turn it on and listen for a second, the same thing you do (and they should pull the OBD2 codes, but you already did that so you don't need them to do it). A compression/leakdown test makes them actually get their hands dirty, and it will tell you if you have bad failures in the cylinders / valves / seals.

P.S. : SCCA car classes ( nice HTML table version from 2003 ) is a pretty cool way to tell how fast a car *really* is. Cars within a class should run roughly comparable times on an autocross course. Unlike the stupid magazine tests that are done by incompetent drivers in cars that are not track-prepped with retarded unequal tires (some on run flats and some on R-comps) in unequal weather conditions and with insufficient sample size, or stupid 0-60 times which are determined more by launch technique and gearing than anything else, the SCCA classes are built from significant statistical samples, and the cars are actually run by people who know how to drive them, know how to set them up, and are trying to get the best possible time in each car. And autocross is a good way to judge "quickness", which is what I really want in a street car (as opposed to "speed")


Tom Forsyth said...

Beware of the stealth car in the "B stock" category. Along with the well-known fast cars like the Ferrari 328, the E36 M3, the S2000 and the 300ZX, there's the mighty... Lotus Europa Twin Cam???

Tremble in awe at its astounding 1556cc, the startling 105hp, and 60mph in a mere 7.0 seconds. This baby could pull 0.9gs on 1966 road tires! Lotus has always built amazing cars out of stuff they found lying around in the parts bins.

Sadly, no Caterham Seven (i.e. post-1973) is eligible for any SCCA events, allegedly because they continue to be "too fast to race". The closest thing allowed is the original 1958 Lotus 7 America with its massive 58 horsepower 1098cc engine. I watched one of those really rough up a gorgeous (but unwieldy) 57 'Vette at the track the other day - a real chalk'n'cheese deal.

cbloom said...

"Tremble in awe at its astounding 1556cc, the startling 105hp, and 60mph in a mere 7.0 seconds. This baby could pull 0.9gs on 1966 road tires!"

Yeah, I think the VoPo 914 is roughly the same spec (though actually a bit heavier so the 0-60 is a lot worse).

Just shows how important light weight and balance is.

old rants